What is a natural or bio-identical hormone?
Bio-identical hormones are exact duplicates of those that are natural to, or occurring in
the human body. Natural or bio-identical have to do with the chemical structure of a
hormone and not it's source. We do NOT define natural as coming from a plant (ex.
phytoestrogens) or animal (ex. Premarin7). Synthetic hormones are not found in humans, and
are not identical in structure or function to the bio-identical hormones they are intended to replace.
Examples of bio-identical hormones include:
* estriol, estradiol, and estrone
Is there a difference between bio-identical and synthetic hormones?
YES!! Bio-identical hormones cause the same response as your own hormones. Synthetic
hormones cause some of the same actions, but because they have been chemically altered may
have different and/or unintended effects. Our body recognizes a bio-identical hormone as a
friend, someone it has seen before and knows what to do with.
Why should I consider bio-identical hormone replacement therapy anyway?
Even before menopause, certain symptoms may be signs that hormonal adjustments are needed
(breast tenderness and fibrocystic breast disease, migraines and headaches, bloating, mood
swings, anxiety, and hot flashes, for example).Use of bio-identical hormones in the proper
doses will not only control menopausal and peri-menopausal symptoms, but will greatly
improve quality of life both short-term and long-term. Protection against heart disease,
reduced risk of breast cancer, improved cholesterol and lipid profiles, and osteopois
prevention are all valid reasons for monitoring hormone levels and using individualized
bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Are there side effects associated with use of bio-identical hormones? Can these hormones
increase the risk of breast cancer, stroke or heart disease?
Because bio-identical hormones are just like the ones produced by your body, there are
relatively few side effects. Women in general tolerate bio-identical HRT better than
synthetic hormone therapy. The risks identified are primarily associated with excess
estrogen levels, whether the excess occurs naturally or as a result of hormone replacement
therapy, even bio-identical hormones. The body=s natural mechanism for moderating estrogen
includes progesterone, and studies have demonstrated its effectiveness in decreasing the
risks of breast cancer and cardiovascular disease. We are confident that it is safer to
restore hormone balance with bio-identical hormones than to leave the body with a state of
deficiency or excess. Bio-identical hormones must be dosed properly for each individual in
order to avoid adverse effects.
Should bio-identical hormone replacement therapy (HRT) be individualized?
YES!! HRT is not a one size fits all situation. A womans need for hormones is as
individual and unique as she is. The few selected strengths of hormones manufactured by
pharmaceutical companies do not meet the needs of every woman. Bio-identical hormones can
be compounded on prescription to meet your exact needs. Ask our pharmacists for more
Should I quit or change my hormone replacement therapy?
Always consult your healthcare provider before stopping any medication, including
hormones. Discuss your situation and the options available to you with both your physician
and pharmacist. You do have choices regarding HRT and we encourage you to learn as much as
possible about the pros and cons of the different options before making your decision. Our
pharmacists are knowledgeable and experienced with bio-identical hormones, and are
available to answer more detailed questions.
So, how do I get started on bio-identical HRT?
Review the information in this handout. Talk with your physician. Often one cannot
determine the types and amounts of necessary hormones by symptoms alone. We now have the
ability to tailor bio-identical HRT more precisely by measuring active hormone levels in
saliva rather than in blood. Our pharmacists can speak with you about your symptoms and
what hormone levels might be checked. Saliva test results can be interpreted for you
taking into consideration your symptoms, history and needs. A recommendation for possible
therapy, which might include both prescription and OTC products, can be developed for you
and your provider to consider.
Ten Reasons Why Your Hormones Are Imbalanced
Estrogen dominance (too much estrogen in relation to progesterone) can be created by both
an excess of estrogen and a deficiency of progesterone.
Too much estrogen may be caused by:
- Foods that have hormones added to them, such as commercial meat, milk, eggs, and dairy products
- Herbs that have an estrogenic effect in the body, such as licorice, black cohosh
- Birth control pills that contain estrogen
- Environmental toxins that mimic the actions of estrogen (known as xenoestrogens); the largest source
of xenoestrogens is pesticides
- Exposure to radiation, which increases estrogen levels in the blood
- Chronic constipation which interferes with the bodys ability to eliminate estrogen
properly; estrogen then builds up in the colon and can be reabsorbed by the body
- Estrogen supplements as part of a hormone replacement therapy for menopausal symptoms
Too little progesterone may be caused by:
- Birth controll pills or HRT with synthetic progestins, which decrease the body's natural production of progesterone
- Chronic stress
- Lack of insufficient ovulation (which is a natural consequence of going into menopause)